Case Study: Ultra Precision Scales for Pharmaceutical Bioreactors

A bioreactor is a device that is designed to grow organisms under controlled conditions. This might include bacteria, animal cells, yeast, algae, or a host of others.

These organisms are used in an ever-expanding range of pharmaceuticals, vaccines, antibodies, and other industrial processes. Unfortunately, most industrial scales are insufficient for monitoring bioreactor devices, which severely limits their ability to run efficiently in the most optimal mode.

SAW Scales Empower Continuous Mode Pharmaceutical Bioreactors

To understand the Client, the dilemma they faced, and the optimal solution for them, we must consider the needs of the core technology on which they rely. Bioreactors have three primary process modes, including:

  • Batch Processing
  • Fed-Batch Processing
  • Continuous Processing

Batch Mode

This is the simplest yet least economical process in production. Cells are loaded into a bioreactor that has been filled with a finite amount of media, and nothing else is introduced during the batch process.

However, it’s a one-way trip from the growth phase through to the death phase for the organism. Furthermore, the desired end product comes engulfed in less useful debris and toxins.

All the nutrients are provided at the beginning of the cultivation, and the bioprocess continues until all of the nutrients are consumed. This results in a shorter process over all, but a limited amount of product as well.

Fed-Batch Mode

Fed-Batch mode extends the productive duration of the culture by continuously introducing fresh nutrients throughout the process. Prolonged productivity can significantly increase the total yield, which is why this is the most common process.

However, it does come with its own disadvantages. Namely, it can foster the growth of inhibitory agents, increasing the risk of contamination.

Continuous Mode

This mode empowers the potential for indefinite manufacturing by equalizing the growth and death rates of the cells. Once the process reaches equilibrium, the amount of fresh medium added matches the amount that is removed for cell harvesting.

With a Continuous Mode bioreactor, pharmaceutical companies can reduce downtime between batches, as well as the need for extensive and costly cleaning. However, an automated process is only as good as the technology at its core.

For pharmaceutical bioreactors, this includes the scales that are used to ensure accuracy in materials measurements and consistency between batches. To ensure optimal efficiency, they require scales with exceptional precision that can record minute weight changes reliably and consistently.

Client Overview: Bioreactors for Pharmaceutical Manufacturing

One of our largest customers manufactures bioreactors. This major provider to the bioreactor industry wanted a Continuous Process system to empower their pharmaceutical clients to maximize efficiency in their bioprocesses.

The Problem: Reliability in Determining Material Loss

In a Continuous Mode bioreactor, the challenge is to weigh the small amounts that were being removed from the process. Therefore, the customer required an incredibly accurate scale with sufficient weight capacity to accept the bioreactor.

They also needed the scale to output weight data to their perfusion system so that the system could adjust the reactor based on weight readings. To summarize, they needed a scale with:

  • Extreme Accuracy
  • Copious Capacity
  • Ultra-High Resolution
  • The Ability to Export Weight Data

The Solution: Boosting Accuracy with Surface Acoustic Waves

Collaborating with the Client, we determined that the best solution was to outfit the customer’s perfusion bioreactors with the Model SAW-KL. With large load cells and a 500-pound capacity, this scale was the perfect fit for their infrastructure.

As one of our Large Ultra Precision Scales, it offers over 10-times the accuracy of other industrial weighing platforms at their price point. This is because, in combination with the abundant capacity, these Ultra Precision Scales utilize a completely digital transducer with Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) technology. Best of all, their rugged design makes them ideal for demanding applications.

The Client chose this Sound Acoustic Wave Scale because the Arlyn SAW-KL:

  1. Boasts a capacity of 225kg, allowing it to accept a reasonably sized bioreactor;
  2. Measures otherwise prohibitively-low weight increments of just 2g!
    • That’s a factor of 1:100,000 of full scale.
    • This resolution is also 20x higher than most strain gauge weighing scales!
  3. Can be equipped with a RS-232 Digital output;
    • The weight data is communicated to the bioreactor controller, empowering it to introduce the correct amounts of fresh medium, when required.

Conclusion: Invest in High Precision Scales for Improved Dependability

With the proposal of this solution, we were able to support one of the largest manufacturers of pharmaceutical bioreactors in the industry. Ultra Precision SAW scales by Arlyn Scales provide a unique solution to many challenging needs in the Pharmaceutical Industry, because they support high capacities while providing precise measurements for exceptionally granular weights.

Record Minute Weights with SAW Scales from Arlyn Scales

The work done with pharmaceutical bioreactors can make a huge impact in the lives of people throughout the world. However, their entire operation relies on an almost unfathomable degree of precision and consistency.

Fortunately, at Arlyn Scales, we have a diverse catalog of options and a passion for problem solving in industrial weight measurement applications. For help finding the perfect Ultra Precision SAW scale for your facilities, reach out to our team today.